Saturday, February 16, 2013

School-marm Saturday Session #1

Alright so my new favorite thing to do to encourage writing on my blog is to assign a day of the week a certain topic.

Remember Farmday Friday Yaaaay! posts? It's been so stinkin' long but I still want to keep doing those. I'm shooting for next week.

Anywhoo-I think School-marm Saturdays will be posts about some kernel of knowledge I think is pretty cool, pretty farmy, and or pretty.....just pretty. They say with every person who dies, an entire library of knowledge dies with them.

Let's fight that off shall we? I'll share, I'll die eventually, but allll you readers will maybe learn a bit and my library won't go with me. How cool is that? Feel free to jump in and share your 'library' with me too!

Because spring is coming and we are all aching for a bit of warmth.....let's talk soil.

School's in Session!
Soil; the technical definition of which is NOT dirt. I remember very well being told again and again not to call soil, dirt. Dirt is what you sweep up off the floor but SOIL, oh noooo soil is very special indeed. You see we would all die without it.

Dramatic, I know but very true. Soil contains millions of microbes that break down grass, leaves, scraps, bodies, name it (almost) and soil disposes of it. Quietly. Slowly. And without much ceremony it saves us all from a slow death of being suffocated under millions of pounds of debris.

Maybe that's why we take it for granted?

See, here I will get on my soap box about nutrients. Nutrients are great. They are in us when we eat food, they are in soil, they get taken in by veggies and then given to us as we digest said yummy veggies in our tummies. BUT we cannot live on nutrients alone, neither can plants, neither can animals. There are all these 'things' in our food, in our soil, in the foods animals eat that we simply.....wait for it......

don't understand.

Yup, that's right, as humans we really don't know everything.

So if you are farming, gardening, growing on a piece of land and all you ever do is dump the big three: 
NPK = Nitrogen,,,,Phosphorus,,,,Potassium
on your land to get your plants to grow, that's like taking steroids, uppers, caffeine and multivitamins to your plants.

Can we survive on steroids, uppers, caffeine and multivitamins? Well, maybe a college Freshmen can. 
But typically the answer is NO.

Studies were done at the University of Illinois that prove that plants given regular doses of Nitrogen fertilizer were more susceptible to insect damage by aphids. Why? Aphids are these teeny little bad guys that are attracted to new, succulent growth which Nitrogen forces plants to put on. Aphids insert their mouth parts in to the stem of a plant and suck out the sugary sap inside (all plants create sugar as their food). Aphids can make a plant struggle to live, produce small crappy fruit and they poop sticky stuff (called honeydew....ew) all over the place which attracts ants and fungus.  Whoa.

Fun. are you just dumping nutrients on your soil?

Good soils are made from good ingredients. Add compost, not just nitrogen (aka Miracle Gro etc.). Invest in your soil because just like anything else, what you put in, you will also get out.


  1. Clean soil is healthy soil. This past autumn we unloaded the barn run-in of it's collection of horse, sheep and calf manure and put it on the garden. The garden soil was already black in richness; now it's going to be hyper-rich.

    1. Whoohoo; maters as big as your head? You'll have to post photos on your blog!